Make your own clean cashew milk

Whether because of environmental or animal-rights related reasons, issues with digesting lactose, or any number of other health and lifestyle concerns, milk alternatives are now a part of many people’s regular daily diets.

Today, it’s safe to assume that every mid to high-end coffee shop or restaurant in the UAE will provide some kind of dairy-free option. Some, such as Alkalime in Abu Dhabi, have even gone the other way and offer no cow milk at all in any of its coffees or dishes.

Alkalime restaurant courtesy Alexa Mena

A hugely profitable market

While the country’s biggest supermarket chains provide shelves and shelves of nut, soya, rice and other dairy-free milk varieties, even most small corner stores offer a couple of different types.

Alongside the well-established  almond, coconut, oat and soya milks, other milk alternatives made from cashew, peanut, pea, pistachio and even potatoes have also started popping up.

Leading food retailers such as Lulu’s reported that demand for milk alternatives in the UAE grew by 50 percent in just 2020 alone. Studies state that the Middle East’s alternative milk market was worth US$1.2 billion in 2022, a figure that was expected to grow to $2.16 billion by 2028.

Are dairy-free milks actually healthy?

However, milk alternatives tend to come with a very steep price tag. The average box of branded almond or soya milk will set you back upwards of Dh15, a cost that quickly adds up if you’re having it over cereal and in your coffees every day. 

However, while milk alternatives are generally considered ‘healthier’ than cow’s milk, the irony is that many store-bought brands contain multiple additives, including thickeners, stabilizers and emusifiers. They also include unappetizing ingredients such as locust bean, gellan, xanthan gum, sunflower lecithin, and often contain more sugar than traditional dairy milk, as well as additional flavorings. In fact, diary-free milks have been known to cause their own digestive and health problems. For instance, oat milk contains high levels of maltose, a type of natural sugar that can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels.

Mira Naaman Iskandar
Mira Naaman, chef and concept creator at Nectar healthy cafe

Homemade is better

Mira Naaman, is the chef and concept creator behind Nectar, Abu Dhabi’s popular healthy vegan cafe. Specializing in unprocessed, gluten-free dishes that are all made from scratch, she even makes her own nut milks. 

“Most supermarket brands will use chemicals to stabilize their milk alternatives and keep them on shelves for an extensive period of time,” she says. “They also tend to overly sweeten their milks, and generally they don’t use unrefined sugar sources. But making your own instead results in a cleaner milk. It’s also a lot more cost-efficient.”

She explains that her cashew milk is actually quick and easy to whip up at home.

“My cashew milk recipe involves no extensive soaking, special milk bags or blenders. As homemade milks are all-natural, they will separate, but just a quick shake before use will restore its creaminess,” she explains.

Recipe: Mira Naaman’s cashew milk

Yields approximately one litre.


  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 liter of water


  • Heat 500ml of water and soak the cashews for approximately 15 minutes.
  • Pour the nuts and the soaking water into a blender, and add an additional 500ml of water. Blend until silky smooth.
  • If sweetness is required, add two soft pitted medjool or three khalas dates into the mix and again blend until smooth.
  • Refrigerate for approximately three days and use with cereal, coffee, chia puddings or whatever you fancy. is for every body and mind in the UAE. This magazine is all about moderation, making small changes, little additions and the odd subtraction.



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